November 22, 2016
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 22 November 2016
King Henry VI of England ascended the throne on 1 September 1422 at the age of nine months. His first official act was a decree, which was certified with the baby’s thumbprint. The decree included disciplinary instructions to his governess (Dame Alice Butler) “to attend our person with license to chastise us reasonably from time to time.”
Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, was described as the king’s “master.” A company of knights and squires were appointed to the king, and Warwick was ordered “to be about the king’s person.” The earl was directed to “teach him to love, worship, and dread God, draw him to virtue by ways and means conceivable, lying before him examples of God’s grace to virtuous kings and the contrary fortune of kings of the contrary disposition, teach him nurture, literature, language, and other manner of cunning, to chastise him when he doth amiss, and to remove persons not behovefull nor expedient from his presence” [Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee (eds.), The Dictionary of National Biography, 63 vols. (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1885-1900) 26:56].
Discipline is always foundational to the development of one’s character. Discipline is also biblical, as evident in both the Old and New Testaments. Proverbs 22:6 exhorts, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Just as biological children need discipline, so do the children of God. Hebrews 12:11 reads, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Beginning with an exhortation to endure, Hebrews 12 explains the relationship between the discipline and holiness of God in the lives of his people. Scripture exhorts the believer to persevere in faith, and changes the emphasis from Old Testament believers in chapter 11 to Jesus, as the one whose example is to be followed. You and I can receive divine strength to encounter trials when we consider how Jesus endured hardship, in addition to considering God’s purpose for discipline.
Believers find encouragement in being surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). The word “cloud” (Gk. nephos) is derived from the Latin nubes, and is used only here in the New Testament in reference to a vast mass of clouds. “Nebula” is Latin and equivalent to Greek nephelē, which denotes a single cloud, and thus the biblical metaphor refers to a great amphitheatre with an arena for runners and a multitude of seating tiers that ascend like a cloud. The “witnesses” (Gk. marturōn) are not merely “observers;” rather, they are witnesses who testify from their own experience. God’s people receive much encouragement from knowing that others have encountered trials in the Christian life and have triumphed gloriously.
Encouragement from “so great a cloud of witnesses” should lead God’s people to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” The exhortation is to avoid any attitude, deed, or thought, which might impede spiritual maturity in the Christian life. Due to universal human sinfulness, we can all easily become entangled in sin. Therefore, we must “run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:1-2; cf. Phil 1:6). Hebrews 12 proves the assurance of the believer’s position in Christ Jesus, and provides a compelling incentive to persist in faithfulness to God.
Your Capitol Missionary-Pastor,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.